Pacific Daughter is a Christ-centered blog that provides devotionals, encouragement, and thoughts on topics like faith, life, and culture.
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For some time I have been frustrated with the concept of change. I have never been the type of person who likes change. But lately, I’ve noticed that a lot of things in my life that I want to and that I know need to change, haven’t. I don’t mean circumstantial change, I mean deep change....
For some time I have been frustrated with the concept of change. I have never been the type of person who likes change. But lately, I’ve noticed that a lot of things in my life that I want to and that I know need to change, haven’t. I don’t mean circumstantial change, I mean deep change. I want to be better, to move forward, to grow but somehow I feel stuck no matter how hard I try to do things that I think will help me change for the better.
When I was in high school I played Tennis. Like with any sport, I had a coach that taught me how to play and helped me to train. When you first start playing a sport you have to be taught and in order for you to get better someone has to be there to help you do it. No successful athlete has looked back and realized that they did it all on their own. As a Chrisitan, I’ve come to realize that making changes in my life and growing in my faith has little to do with my sole effort. It takes someone else to help me through it.
Michael’ Jackson’s song “Man in the Mirror” always seemed so inspirational to me. We have to start with ourselves to make changes. We have to change what inadequacies we see in the mirror before we can tell someone else to change. It’s all very “take the plank out of your own eye” but in reality, we don’t have the ability or power to change ourselves, only Christ does.
I don’t have the power or strength to make changes in my life, to get better, to move forward. I can’t grow on my own. It’s not about me making changes but about Christ changing me.
” Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” 1 Peter 2:2-3
1 Peter says that we are like newborn infants that need to be fed in order to grow. We are seeds that need to be watered, stones that need to be built up. We need Jesus and must rely on him to change us daily. True change begins with Christ. We can try to clean ourselves up and work harder but it will all be in vain. Many of us get stuck on the fact that God show’s us what we need to change in our lives and what a changed life is supposed to look like. But we forget that Jesus not only came to show us what to change, but he also came to do the changing for us.
Only the Gospel can turn our hearts to God. Only Jesus can guide us forward into the lives we are meant to live. He can heal our brokenness, fill our emptiness, and turn our weaknesses into his power. All we have to do is turn to him to do it.
“And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:11
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 22-23 The Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control....
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 22-23
The Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Many times these attributes have been seen as a check-list for Christian character. We often compartmentalize them as separate attributes that must be attained. I often hear people say things like, “I know God wants me to be more patient… have more joy… be more loving… etc.” But is that the message that Paul is trying to give in Galatians 5? Is he saying that in order to be good Christians we must be good, faithful, and kind?
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
The heart of Paul’s words is not to encourage good moral character. In context, the point he is really trying to get at is freedom. In verse one he states that it is for freedom that Christ has set us free, then goes on throughout the rest of the chapter talking about the flesh and the spirit. Paul is writing to the Galatians in order to remind them of what it means to be in Christ. The fruit of the Spirit is not a list of requirements for acceptance, it is a list of incentives for an invitation.
He sets us free from our sin and all the consequences of it without any condition. He does it so that we can be free in him to receive all that comes with being a child of God. If we have been set free by Jesus Christ we are made new in him and have access to bear the fruit that only comes from God. Verses 22-23 are assurances that when we belong to Christ our lives and our character reflect his own. The fruit of the Spirit is a description of God’s character and only when we are in Christ can we reflect his nature.
Too often we strive to achieve upstanding moral character thinking it will get us right with God. We are called to be more like Jesus, to follow him, but it is an impossible task without him. God does not place this impossible burden on us. He wants to set us free from the one we already have placed on ourselves, hindering us from living a life of true freedom. He wants to set us free from our self-righteousness and the shame of our human failure.
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” Galatians 5:16-18
We are obsessed with identity. We crave to understand ourselves and know what place we have in this world. Because of this, we go on journeys of self-discovery and even work to create new identities. But identity is not something that is far lost or yet to be built. It doesn’t even depend on our...
We are obsessed with identity. We crave to understand ourselves and know what place we have in this world. Because of this, we go on journeys of self-discovery and even work to create new identities. But identity is not something that is far lost or yet to be built. It doesn’t even depend on our own abilities or decisions. The truth of our identities is plainly laid out in the Bible. We either find ourselves in Christ or we don’t. If it really is that simple then why do we try to find our identities within ourselves or in the world? Our dissatisfaction with our identity in Jesus Christ lies in our denial of what that reveals to us about ourselves. If we have to admit who we are in him, we also have to admit who we are without him.
Outside of the life of Christ and the love of God we are sinners. We are shameful, broken, selfish, prideful to our core. So, instead, we work to search for or create better identities. No one enjoys spotlighting our most shameful selves. So we run and hide and pretend. But deep down we hopelessly desire to be accepted for those true selves, our darkest selves. The question is can God receive and accept us for who we are? The answer: No. But this is why Christ’s atonement is so crucial. He takes our true selves, every sin, all of our shame, and covers it in his redemptive blood, making us acceptable and holy.
Let’s not shy from the truth of who we are as human beings; fragile, fleshly, depraved. Remember that the truth shall set us free. When we embrace that truth we are able to see who we are in Christ. Our identities are made known in who God declares himself to be. So then the solution is not to go searching for our identities but looking to Jesus’.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus makes seven “I am” statements that are metaphors declaring the truth of his identity. Every statement he lays out about himself is followed by a statement of what that means for those who are in him. When we focus on who God says he is, the truth of who we are in him satisfies our souls and long desire to know and understand our identity.
“Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” John 6:35
“Again Jesus spoke to them saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
“So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, Truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:7-10
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” John 10:14-15
“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die…”
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
“I am the true vine and my Father is the vinedresser.” John 15:1
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
Hope can be a hard thing to find these days. The world can seem to be a dark place and we often find ourselves wondering where we can find relief from all the troubles we face. We search for things to hope for in order to satisfy us. Looking for something to put our hope...
Hope can be a hard thing to find these days. The world can seem to be a dark place and we often find ourselves wondering where we can find relief from all the troubles we face. We search for things to hope for in order to satisfy us.
Looking for something to put our hope in can be exhausting. We jump from one shallow thing to another, desperately wanting it to satisfy us in some way. We look to people, entertainment, drugs, food, money, etc. But instead, these things eventually leave us more empty and hungry than we were before. Even worse, these things push us away from what should truly put our hope in.
We often hope in the things of the world because it seems like the easiest fix. But it actually takes more work than we think. We have to search, we have to fight, we have to work for every temporary fix. And then we are left with nothing when they fade, except more frustration, exhaustion, and hopelessness. We are left wandering, floating in search of the next thing to satisfy us.
But the Bible tells us that hope in Christ never fails us. Hoping in Jesus leaves us stronger, comforted, and satisfied. Why? Because it is not temporary. It is the only thing we can hope in that is everlasting.
“…we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6:18-20
Hebrews tells us that we have a sure hope set before us and it is a steadfast anchor of the soul. What an encouraging picture that paints! A hope that can finally weigh down our troubled and wandering souls. A hope that gives us rest and peace in a world of chaos and destruction. A hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ.
And what exactly is this hope that we can find in Jesus? He died and was raised to life on our behalf. In him, we know that we have peace. He pours out his love to us, the love that was proven on the cross. And we find our hope in his promises, that we may have eternal and abundant life in him.
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:1-5
Have you been found hopeless? Are you exhausted from wandering and searching for something to put your hope in? Something that will not fail? Hope in Jesus. He does not keep us searching for him. He is not something to work for. He hands us our hope freely and easily and with everything he has promised it to be.
The hymn, In Christ Alone, perfectly exemplifies our hope in Christ and what it leaves us,
In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.
I hate to wait. I hate waiting in lines, I hate waiting for information, I hate waiting in traffic. I like to do things on my own time and when things don’t happen the way I think they should (or how I want them to), I get frustrated. Over the years, I have gotten better...
I hate to wait. I hate waiting in lines, I hate waiting for information, I hate waiting in traffic. I like to do things on my own time and when things don’t happen the way I think they should (or how I want them to), I get frustrated. Over the years, I have gotten better at waiting but there are still times when I walk into the post office or bank, look around, and walk straight back out because of the incredibly long line.
The world tends to encourage us to not practice waiting. We are obsessed developing ways to not have to wait. We have become dangerously accustomed to having our food, information, and entertainment whenever and however we want it. Over time, we have gotten worse at waiting. And, unfortunately, we think it’s a good thing. We’ve adapted to our impatience and we think that it is doing more. We can get more done if we get to wait less. But we achieve so much more when we learn to wait.
Jesus has so much in store for the process of waiting. It is a hard thing to do, especially when we are called to have patience in suffering but we must know that God has a purpose for our waiting and gives us the tools to help us do it.
All throughout the Bible God tells us that we must learn patience, steadfastness, and self-control. In a world where we can have anything we want and when we want it, it is extremely difficult to apply these virtues to our lives.
I want to point out that the act of waiting, or lack thereof, has the ability to reveal to us things about God and our spiritual well-being. In waiting, the depths of our hearts may be searched and a multitude of truths about ourselves revealed. When we refuse to grow in patience and self-control and refuse to wait, we are really exhibiting our lack of trust in God. Everything seems better when we take things into our own hands. It also reveals our pride, in that we refuse to humble ourselves to God’s plans.
However, when we do wait and exercise patience and self-control, we are able to have God revealed to us.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.”
“Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.”
Waiting is excruciatingly painful but it is not meaningless. What makes waiting worthwhile is what we are waiting for. All of life is waiting and when we do not see the end of our wait or a worthwhile end, then our suffering seems to be in vain. But there is a meaning in our waiting and we find it in what we are desperately waiting for.
When I stand in line at the bank, post-office, or grocery store, I find it unbearable to wait unless there is something that I am willing to wait for. If I stand in line not knowing why, I have no reason to remain there. But if I know what I am waiting for, what I am hoping for, then the wait is worthwhile.
The problem is that most of us do not know what we are waiting for. Sure, there’s that promotion coming up, a vacation, retirement. But then what?
The Bible encourages us that there is much more to wait for: We are to wait on the Lord. Jesus is what is worthwhile in our waiting. Even more so, God is with us in the wait. He is our strength in weakness, patience in suffering, and light in the darkness. Waiting is not a time of doing nothing. It is a time of preparation. It is a developing of trust in God and deepening of love and relationship. What do the things we are waiting on reveal about our hearts? Are we waiting for things that will leave us unsatisfied? Are we impatiently refusing to seek God in every situation because our pride tells us that we know better? Or do we see the glory awaiting us and the satisfaction we can only find in Christ?
“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”
We live in an “I want” society. The greatest songs, movies, and books all contain characters that are trying to achieve something, whether they get it or not. We live in a world where we encourage others to seek their hearts desires, to get their piece of the sky, to win and obtain what they...
We live in an “I want” society. The greatest songs, movies, and books all contain characters that are trying to achieve something, whether they get it or not. We live in a world where we encourage others to seek their hearts desires, to get their piece of the sky, to win and obtain what they truly “deserve.”
When I was younger my sister and I had a game we would play when watching television. Whenever our show would go on commercial break we would intensely wait for what great toy would be advertised. The first of the two of us who could yell, “Mine!” the fastest would “get” that toy. Of course, we would never actually get whatever we claimed. The appeal of it was the wanting. It was exciting to see if we would want the same things and even more exciting when one of us got a claim on what we wanted. It didn’t really matter that I never got what I wanted. There was always something else that I wanted more. Commercial after commercial, my sister and I would fight to claim toys and we always wanted the next one even more than the last. I’ve come to realize that I and many other people live their entire lives this way. We are always in want.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want”
Psalm 23 is very popular passage but the second part of verse 1 has always confused and honestly made me feel a little uncomfortable. What exactly does “I shall not want” mean? Does it mean that I shouldn’t have any desires? Any goals? Any aspirations? That’s obviously not true. God doesn’t expect us to have meaningless, purposeless lives. He wants us to pursue fulfilling and completely satisfying lives. Psalm 23 simply expresses what truly brings that satisfaction.
I have lived a lot of my life in want. And when I had achieved that want, I simply move on to the next thing that my heart had been longing for. We all think that achieving the things we want will satisfy us. That the better car, house, job, or boyfriend/girlfriend will finally make us happy. But we will soon find that they just make the holes we are trying to fill bigger. All it does is make us want more.
The Bible tells us that God is the true way to satisfaction. He is able to fill our every need and desire. But if Jesus is the way to a meaningful and purposeful life, why are we still desperately seeking satisfaction elsewhere? It is pretty difficult to be fulfilled by God if we are constanly filling ourselves with other things. We get stuck in a cycle of achieving what we think we want and being disappointed when it leaves us empty again, so we move on to the next thing. And the cycle continues… Unfortunately for many, it never ends.
But God wants to satisfy us and to never have us be empty again. The funny part is that to be filled and satisfied with God, we must become empty. We must be needy in order to receive. We must be broken in order to be restored and we must die to ourselves and the world to truly have life. God can provide everything in Jesus Christ. Psalm 23 does not mean that we are not to have any desires, it means that every desire has already been filled by the goodness of God.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
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